Will you really make popcorn so often that you need a popcorn maker in college?
Browse any retailer around major shopping times, and you’ll see all the campus “essentials”: blenders, popcorn makers, indoor grills, toasters, coffee makers, toaster ovens. There are electric toothbrushes and electric razors, and that doesn’t even include your laptop and printer, digital camera, cell phone and MP3 player.
Share this list of what you’ll really need at college with your parents, and save the rest of your family’s cash for tuition.
Laptops with Wi-Fi can be helpful to students, says Kiersten Murphy, a college consultant with Murphy College Consultants in Seattle.
“College campuses are virtually wireless. I think [having a laptop] gives them more freedom for choosing work space and going to class and typing notes,” Murphy says. But although laptops can be helpful, they can also be distractions.
“Let’s say a student shows up at a lecture with a laptop because it’s easier to type to take notes,” says Troy Hammond, a counselor at Bayview Glen School in Toronto. “But are they being distracted by using e-mail and doing Web searches when the professor is speaking?” Check your college bookstore for discounts on computers and software.
Our recommendation: A laptop is the way to go. If you can’t afford a laptop, there’s still a place for bringing a desktop computer to college. And if you can’t afford either, scope out the many computer labs on campus, and plan your paper writing accordingly.
Having a printer in your room can save you from trudging across campus in the middle of the night to print a paper.
“Here it is, 3 o’clock in the morning. Are you really going to wander on campus to print something?” says Rob Burckhard, a recent grad of Binghamton University in New York.
Our recommendation: A printer is a great thing to have. Families on a budget, however, can skip a printer and purchase a memory stick instead. That way, you can save your work, slip it in your pocket, and print it in a campus computer lab.
One student in Burckhard’s dorm had a 40-inch, high-tech television. “I said, ‘Here we are in public school. You really don’t need this,’” he says.
Our recommendation: Students may want a TV, but families on a budget should consider it a luxury item. If you have the extra cash, spend it on a laptop instead and use it to watch DVDs or TV online.